The Washington Post

How should candidates utilize pop culture?

Since my friend Mandy Grunwald led Bill Clinton to “The Arsenio Hall Show,” every major leading presidential candidate has had a pop-culture strategy. From Clinton playing the sax to Palin playing herself opposite Tina Fey on “Saturday Night Live,” candidates have made the rounds, presumably in search of a more authentic connection to voters than those offered on the more formal campaign stump.

But this year is shaping up a little differently.  So far, Obama is dominating the late-night circuit, while Romney still considers an invitation from “Saturday Night Live.” (Note to Romney: the writers on “SNL” are REALLY good and they will make even you funny, should you decide to play.) In fact, the Romney camp seems to be considering a tactic from John McCain's campaign: turn Obama's celebrity into a liability.

Remember this bizarre ad from four years ago? Well, it's been updated by Karl Rove's PAC for 2012.

The Republicans think they are on to something here. Ed put it well in his post from the other day:

As I watched Romney's very good victory speech last night, I was reminded of what a vivid stylistic contrast Romney and Obama offer voters: the exotic Obama vs. the plain, wholesome Romney. The president, cool and cerebral, vs. the chipper, happy and matter-of fact Romney. The aloof professor vs. the can-do business man. The former smoker vs. the teetotaler and smoke-free Romney. Can anyone imagine Romney holding a cocktail while smoking a cigarette?

Ed believes that voters are ready for a more "dorky and bland" president. Maybe so. But then watch this. Dorky and bland can get old pretty fast.

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